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Friday, August 25, 2006
Bloggity Goodness...

...I'm shamelessly stealing this title from Suz because it's a good phrase, and it sort of describes what I'm about to talk about.

For those who read my blog, you notice that there's a little silver bar up there at the top of the page that allows you to search and report my blog for being terribly horribly offensive, and "next blog". I'm going to talk about the magical "Next Blog" button for a little bit here.

For those already bored, go ahead and click that button and find something else to read. For the rest of you, let's talk about that button. Every once in a while I'll click that button a few times and see where it leads me. Or what I can learn from it. And I've encountered some very interesting things over the course of time while clicking that button.

First off, that button is only going to lead you to blogs within the Blogger/Blogspot domain. It is not going to take you to LiveJournal, Xanga, or to all the blogs in the universe. Although I think that would be a really great button to have to tell you the truth. Just *think* of the randomness that could happen....

Ok, let's get down to business. There are an awful lot of people out there who just use the default Blogger templates and don't bother to do anything to customize them or truly make them their own. It's no wonder that people play with WordPress or create thier own templates out there because the default ones have no personality. Honestly, your blog template should be a slight reflection of your personality. And while a certain someone wants you to know that there is too much orange mentioned in the scribbles at the top of the template, the point is not the subject matter that's discussed, but the fact that there are scribbles. Anyone who's ever seen me at work, or writing things down, knows that I scribble notes in lists sort of like that. I don't do the heart sketchy thingy, but the arrows and scribbles certainly are familiar, as is the broken pencil. I've been breaking lots of pencils lately - they're cheap (they've got them by the box here at work) and I can get my frustration out easily by breaking them. Ah, but I digress.

Personality, people, personality. It's not just there in the words. After all, when you click that next blog button, are you going to be more drawn in by the title of the blog, the title of the post, or the fact that the template just jumps out and grabs you? Think about it in terms of browsing a bookstore. Yeah, thought so. You have your favorites, and ignore the rest, unless there's a cover that catches your attention. Hitting that Next Blog button has much the same result.

The other thing is that there are a lot of blogs out there that got started, and abandoned rather quickly. As in maybe there's one entry and that's it. That's rather discouraging but makes it easy to just pass on by.

I found one that redirected to another main business website - I thought that was a rather clever use of the blogger interface. Let's just redirect people to our business site and hope that they like us. Never mind putting up a company blog. They're probably thinking that if someone searches for their product, and uses the word 'blog' in the search, they'll have a better chance of catching that customer's eye. From a marketing perspective, it's not dumb.

Sometimes you hit that Next Blog button and you don't get another Next Blog button. That's because someone violated Blogger/Google's Terms of Service and managed to cover it or eliminate it from thier template. You could do one of two things when that happens. You could consider it to be the end of your Next Blog journey, or you could hit the back button on your browser and hit that Next Blog button again - I promise, it will take you somewhere new.

Sometimes those places it takes you are very bizarre. Just this morning I ended up on a site that had a quicktime movie installed on it with a lot of pictures of a naked woman. I saw a guy asking how the heck can you get sick in August (easy, germs don't take vacations). Then there was the site for Atlanta Malpractice Attorneys - but they don't use capital letters in thier blog title, and it seems more like they just repeat those words over and over again. I found the blog of a trucker talking about his travels across the US. I found someone who was adopting a child from Vladivostock. I found a Mormon who lives in Ohio who muses on politics. I even found the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Library Acquisitions & Cataloging Insights blog - from skimming it, I gather they're using it as a sort of change management tool. I found lots that I couldn't read because they were in different languages. Some of them seemed to have multiple languages in the single blog, but maybe that was just me. But I could swear I saw German and Italian on the same page.

Usually they're useless blog pages. Sometimes they're very useful or interesting. The best blog that I ever ran across (and probably the only one that I still read regularly) is Cooking for Engineers(link is fixed now). Yes, folks - it really is a recipe site. The guy who runs it lives in my area, has a passion for food, and is a pretty bright guy with good taste. The blog expanded from a blog to a full fledged site a while ago - I've been reading him for at least a year, probably more. And he puts the recipes down in the way all recipes should be presented - in an engineering table. I love it - it's easy to read, and covers everything. Ah, but this isn't a plug for his site (although I encourage everyone to read it), but about what I find when traveling the blogosphere. It's how I found Go Fug Yourself - a hysterically irreverent site about two women who pick on fashion faux pas' in a very cynical sarcastic and mean way - they were on blogspot a long long time ago.

What I'm getting to is this - click that Next Blog button once in a while because you never know what you're going to find. And you might find a blogger that's in the midst of becoming a famous author, or is adopting a child they've wanted for years, or someone who indulges in a passion that you share and you never thought about looking at it the way they do...

...just like how I found Cooking for Engineers.